- ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (4-0) | LW: 1
It was a typical “Bama vs non-Power 5” game in Tuscaloosa. The Tide cruised to a 63-14 victory over Southern Miss. Bryce Young racked up 5 TD’s, throwing for 313 yards in the process. This was a great tune-up game for Bama before they host Ole Miss on Saturday – a team who gave them some trouble last year in Oxford.
- GEORGIA BULLDOGS (4-0) | LW: 2
This Georgia team continues to impress. They rolled into Vandy on Saturday and mercilessly throttled the Commodores 62-0. This game got out of hand almost immediately, as the Bulldogs took a 35-point lead into the 2nd quarter. A couple fun facts about this game – Georgia had twice as many TDs as Vanderbilt did first downs (8-4) and despite being the starting QB of a team who posted 62 points, JT Daniels threw for only 129 yards because Kirby Smart pulled the starter before the 2nd quarter. There is no doubt that Georgia’s starters will be rested and feeling good this weekend when they host #rk Arkansas – the first true test for the Bulldogs since their Week 1 matchup against Clemson.
- OREGON DUCKS (4-0) | LW: 3
The Ducks defeated Arizona 41-19 on Saturday, but there was some cause for concern on the defensive front. Although they forced 5 turnovers (all INT’s), the Wildcats were able to gash Oregon on the ground, amassing 202 rushing yards. The Ducks held their own when defending in the red zone, but Arizona was able to move the ball with ease throughout the game and convert on the important downs. The Wildcats picked up 31 1st downs, going 7/15 on 3rd down and 4/4 on 4th down along the way. Oregon will need to tighten up that run defense now that they have begun conference play.
- IOWA HAWKEYES (4-0) | LW: 4
Iowa’s win on Saturday didn’t come in a dominating fashion like their first 3 victories, but they got it done. They found themselves trailing 14-7 to Colorado State in the 2nd half, but they retook the lead in the 3rd quarter and did not allow the Rams to score in the 2nd half, eventually pulling away to a 24-14 victory. They may need a better effort this week when they travel to Maryland to take on an undefeated Terrapins team on Friday. Iowa is the superior team, but they will be walking into a raucous Friday night atmosphere, which should give the home team a boost.
- PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (4-0) | LW: 5
Penn State, by all appearances, seems to be a playoff-caliber team. In last week’s rankings, I said that I would like to see some more explosiveness from the offense – and they delivered. En route to a 38-17 win over Villanova, Sean Clifford threw three 50+ yard TD’s, helping him to accumulate over 400 yards through the air. Now, I know that is nothing to gawk at considering who he was playing against, but it’s nice to know that the ability is there. Penn State needs to be careful this week against Indiana. The Hoosiers won this contest last season, and the Nittany Lions don’t want to be caught looking ahead to a potential top-10 matchup against Iowa next week.
- FLORIDA GATORS (3-1) | LW: 10
I won’t lie to you, I wasn’t expecting a very dynamic Gators offense after losing Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts, among others. Well, while it admittedly isn’t that difficult of a task, the Gators are making me look like a fool. In the process of defeating rival Tennessee 38-14, Dan Mullen’s squad picked up over 500 yards for the 3rd time this year. Emory Jones factored in on 353 of those, throwing for 209 yards and tacking on 144 on the ground. They will need that offense to show up again on Saturday when they travel to Lexington to take on Kentucky. Their last 3 games in the Bluegrass State were all victories, but all were decided by 8 points or less.
- OKLAHOMA SOONERS (4-0) | LW: 6
The Sooners continue to walk on the razor’s edge. The Sooners hosted WVU as a 17-point favorite, but they needed some late Mountaineers miscues and a FG as time expired to escape with a 16-13 victory. Oklahoma is undefeated, but it doesn’t feel that way in Norman. There is some animosity forming on part of the Sooners faithful toward their starting QB Spencer Rattler. During the course of the game, the crowd could be heard chanting “We want Caleb”, referencing backup QB Caleb Williams. If that isn’t proof that the Sooners aren’t living up to expectations, then I don’t know what is. Just to put that into perspective, Spencer Rattler entered the season as the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and despite not yet suffering a loss, his home crowd wants him replaced. It feels like the Sooners are destined to be upset this season and it’s just a matter of time. That time could be soon approaching – the Sooners will travel to Kansas State this week to take on a Wildcats team who was featured in the AP Top 25 before losing to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Kansas State would be sure to get up for this game regardless of the situation, but now in a bounce-back position they should certainly be a handful for Lincoln Riley’s squad.
- CINCINNATI BEARCATS (3-0) | LW: 7
The Bearcats were off this week which should be a major boost for them when they head to Indiana to take on #rk Notre Dame. With an extra week to prepare, Cincinnati was able to get a good look at their opponent this week. I expect the Bearcats to be prepared for battle in this Top 10 showdown in South Bend. After all, this is one of the biggest games in the history of Cincinnati’s football program.
- OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (3-1) | LW: 11
Is there a possible QB controversy brewing in Columbus? Through their first 3 games, the fans’ frustrations were starting to boil over with QB CJ Stroud – and with good reason. He has shown flashes of good potential, but for the most part he has looked alarmingly average after winning the starting job shortly before the season opener. He was rested on Saturday when the Buckeyes hosted Akron. Enter Kyle McCord. He racked up 319 yards on 13 completions against the Zips, throwing for 2 TD’s. However, his stat line was blemished with an INT. He still posted a QB rating of 246.6, which was higher than Stroud’s in any of his games. Now, I know he did this against weak competition, but there is trouble brewing in Columbus if the Buckeyes don’t step up their play. Stroud has been named the starter against Rutgers, but with a lot of pressure for change coming from the fan base, McCord could very well wind up at the helm if Stroud doesn’t start taking steps forward.
- NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (4-0) | LW: 13
After struggling to close out a couple of their victories, the Irish went straight for Wisconsin’s jugular on Saturday. After 3 quarters of a dog fight, the Irish found themselves down 13-10 after Wisconsin kicked a FG 30 seconds into the final frame. Notre Dame would then run back the returning kickoff for a TD – and they never looked back. They used a couple of pick-6’s and a TD pass from Drew Pyne, to help win the 4th quarter by a score of 31-3. They will need to carry that same energy into their game on Saturday when they host a Top 10 opponent – Cincinnati – who had a week off to prepare and get a leg up on the Irish. The good news for Irish fans is that after suffering an injury on Saturday, QB Jack Coan has already been named the starter against the Bearcats. The bad news is that while prior to Saturday, Notre Dame was having some issues in the 4th quarter. Well Cincinnati appears to be a 4th quarter team. Through their first 3 games, Cincinnati has outscored their opponents 50-14 in the final 15 minutes.
- ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (4-0) | LW: 14
So, we just found out the Hogs are legit when they handed out a 20-10 loss to Texas A&M in Jerry World. But are they a for-real contender? We’re about to find out. They travel to Athens on Saturday to take on #2 Georgia – a team who has been carving up opponents with ease. This is not an ideal spot for Arkansas to play this game. Their annual meeting with Texas A&M is an annual rival game in AT&T Stadium. It’s a game that both programs and their fan bases look forward to and get up for, each and every year. Arkansas’ victory on Saturday was their first against the Aggies since 2011, which was cause for celebration. So, now having to turn around and travel to face the #2 team in the country on the road, is not ideal scheduling for Sam Pittman’s up and comers. This is a prime spot for a letdown game. Will the Hogs be able to overcome that and cage the Dawgs? Or will Georgia roast them on the spit? I’m leaning toward the latter.
- BYU COUGARS (4-0) | LW: 12
It looked like BYU would blow out South Florida when they went into the locker room with a 28-6 lead. The Bulls made it exciting, however, which was a surprise considering how airtight this Cougars defense has looked. South Florida pulled within 8 with almost 6 minutes left, but they would never see the ball again, as BYU’s offense put on a “4-minute offense” clinic to bleed the clock out. The Cougars take on Utah State this week, which at first glance would appear to be an easy win, but if anything about college football is true, Friday night road games typically aren’t kind to road favorites.
- OLE MISS REBELS (3-0) | LW: 15
Mississippi had a bye week at exactly the right time. If there is any team in college football that you want two weeks to prepare for, it is Alabama. Especially if you’re traveling to Bryant-Denny Stadium to play them. This game once again has some hype behind it with Ole Miss climbing up the rankings. Not to mention the fact that they hung with Bama for a long portion of last year’s contest. I am hoping that the Rebels can make this game interesting for the full 60 minutes. Their offense can certainly put up points, but I do not yet have enough faith in their defense to believe it will happen.
- COASTAL CAROLINA CHANTICLEERS (4-0) | LW: 16
The Chants rolled through another opponent on Saturday. They offered UMass a not so warm welcome by trouncing the Minutemen 53-3. Coastal dominated in the run game, accumulating over 300 yards. They will try for another extravagant performance this week against UL-Monroe. With such an easy remaining schedule, the Chanticleers will try to climb the rankings with style points.
- MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (4-0) | LW: 17
The Spartans flirted with their first loss of the season on Saturday. Michigan State escaped overtime with a 3-point win over Nebraska. Just to get to OT, they had to run back a Nebraska punt with under 5 minutes left. But hey, a win is a win, and the Spartans are still undefeated. I wouldn’t expect their first loss to come this week, as they play Western Kentucky.
- MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (4-0) | LW: 18
The Wolverines held serve on Saturday, defeating Rutgers 20-13 to keep pace with Michigan State and Penn State as undefeated teams in the Big Ten East. It wasn’t the prettiest win – they entered the matchup as a 20- point favorite. They also allowed Rutgers to gain more total yards and 1st downs. They will want a better performance this week when they travel to Wisconsin. The Badgers have a staunch defense that could give Michigan trouble. Also, the Badgers are coming off a 4th quarter where they were embarrassed in front of a huge national audience, so you can expect them to be fired up for this one.
- TEXAS A&M AGGIES (3-1) | LW: 8
It’s beginning to look like there was a little too much hype over this Texas A&M team in the preseason (sorry Aggies fans). Now you could make the argument that a big factor in the loss was that A&M was without starting QB Haynes King, and that’s a fair point. I would argue, however, that this Aggies team has too much talent, and a more than capable backup in Zach Calzada, to be losing by double digits to Arkansas – a team they haven’t lost to since 2011. The Aggies now need to turn around and take care of business against Mississippi State. You do not want to start conference play 0-2, especially when you still have to play Alabama, Mississippi, Auburn and LSU down the road.
- AUBURN TIGERS (3-1) | LW: 22
This is a big week for Auburn. They appear to be a good team, with a good QB, but due to scheduling and their loss at Penn State, the Tigers are entering Week 5 without an impressive win. They will try to secure one of those this week when they travel to Death Valley to face LSU. Although LSU is currently outside of the Top 25, a win in Baton Rouge is always a resumé booster.
- NC STATE WOLFPACK (3-1) | LW: NR
After a 24-10 loss to Mississippi State, it appeared as if NC State was heading for another mediocre season. That changed after their headlining upset of #9 Clemson. There is a lot of hopeful energy surrounding this program after they pulled out a 2OT thriller. With Clemson in the middle of a regression, they may be in danger of losing their status as kings of the ACC. This means that the Atlantic Division could be up for grabs for the first time in years, and with the Wolfpack taking a head-to-head W against the Tigers, they should very well be in the mix.
- FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS (4-1) | LW: 23
Fresno followed their upset win over UCLA with an underwhelming performance against UNLV. The Bulldogs entered the game as a 30-point favorite but found themselves down 14-0 after the 1st quarter. They needed a 4th quarter comeback effort to avoid being upset themselves. UNLV kicked a FG with less than 8 minutes to go to take a 30-29 lead. The Bulldogs would answer quickly with a TD and used an INT and defensive stop to seal the deal. They will look to stay on the right track when they visit Hawaii on Saturday night.
- UCLA BRUINS (3-1) | LW: 24
UCLA bounced back from their loss with a convincing road win against Stanford. The Bruins were able to feast on the ground, finishing the game with 204 yards. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson added 251 through the air. They will look to pick up another PAC-12 victory on Saturday when they host Arizona State.
- MARYLAND TERRAPINS (4-0) | LW: 25
The Terrapins have been gifted a prime opportunity to get the program back into the national spotlight. They are currently 4-0, with two wins over P5 opponents. They will now have the chance to grab the nation’s attention when they host #4 Iowa on Friday night. You cannot pick a better spot to pull off a Top 5 upset. Iowa struggled, for a time, last week against Colorado State. Now they enter a hostile atmosphere on a short week. The Terrapins stadium should be rocking, which should provide even more energy for a team who is surely already jacked up for this game. It looks like oddsmakers agree, as the Terps are only 3-point dogs at some books.
- OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (4-0) | LW: NR
The Cowboys’ 31-20 win over a ranked Kansas State team earned them a spot in my rankings. I’m not quite sure what to make of them, however. The Pokes are undefeated, but 3 of those victories were decided by 7 points or less. They will have the chance to pick up another win over an AP ranked team this Saturday when they host Baylor in a battle of 4-0 squads.
- CLEMSON TIGERS (2-2) | LW: 9
Some Clemson fans may not be willing to admit it but come on… regression was always coming. I’m not saying this season is a lost cause or anything like that, but for the first time in a long time, Clemson is not going to be able to stroll their way into the playoffs. They are still one of the top teams in the ACC. Hell, they could still be THE best team in the ACC, but they are now going to be under immense pressure to win the games in order to climb back into the Top 4. After all, this is the lowest they have been in the AP Poll since 2014.
- WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS (4-0) | LW: NR
Wake Forest’s well-balanced offensive attack has earned them the final spot in my Top 25. QB Sam Hartman has been great, and the ground game has been racking up yards (188.3/gm). All 4 of Wake’s wins have come by 20+ points. The defense has been sturdy as well, allowing only 14.25 points per game. The Demon Deacons will look to stay undefeated when they host Louisville this Saturday.